Earlier this year, one of my colleagues sent students over to the library to have me help them find novels in verse. I did as asked, and helped several students find verse novels. Later, she sent me a text, where she mentioned that verse novels seem to be a “gateway to enjoying literature for some students”. This seems to me to be a great way to promote verse novels, especially with other teachers, because some students and teachers are reluctant to try a verse novel. Kwame Alexander, the author of The Crossover, does address the confusion about what a verse novel is, in quite an entertaining way.
This weekend, I read May B., by Caroline Starr Rose, which deals with a twelve – year – old girl that is sent to work on the homestead of another family. The novel is set on the Kansas plains, when the land was new frontier. The harshness of the land, and the difficulty to survive really comes through in this novel in verse. It also made me think this would be a good paired text with some of the world literature stories students read about child labor, or give a different perspective on pioneer life. It also made me think that verse novels really can be gateways into literature. Their short text load per page can help motivate a struggling reader, and in the case of May B, the main character is herself struggling with dyslexia.
Maybe next year I will try and share more verse novels with students, both those that struggle, and those that need to expand their horizons into a new format.